Building a network of ‘anchors’ in the Australian landscape
If we are to effectively conserve Australia’s biodiversity we must continue to build the public and private reserve systems. It has been estimated that we need to set aside at least an additional 22 million hectares of habitat. However, even if the critical areas of land were available for acquisition, the cost, estimated at between $400–$800 million, puts this beyond the capacity of any one organisation.
Thus we need to be more creative in finding ways to achieve these goals. The solution is to take conservation beyond the boundaries of the public and private reserve systems.
The Bush Heritage Beyond the Boundaries program has grown out of this realisation. With more than 70 per cent of Australia’s land in private ownership, we need to work with the people and organisations that control substantial and significant areas of land and support their efforts to make conservation a viable activity on their properties.
This will bring huge benefits to our landscapes and wildlife. The pastoral industry, Indigenous people, departments of defence and governments will be our likely partners.
Bush Heritage will work most effectively with other landowners where it is an active stakeholder in their region through its ownership of land or management of areas designated for conservation.
Bush Heritage has identified five regions in Australia in which to focus its activities. Reserves in these regions can be described as ‘anchors’ in the landscape; properties that not only secure important conservation values, but also provide focal points from which to launch regional conservation programs.
The Bush Heritage Beyond the Boundaries Unit supports these regional conservation efforts by sharing expertise, support and resources for conservation planning and action.
The unit is guided by a mission that is an extension of that of Bush Heritage as a whole. The unit’s mission is to deliver large scale, practical and tangible conservation outcomes by inspiring and supporting other landowners to undertake conservation on their land and by sharing expertise and resources.
The unit will achieve its goals in at least five ways:
- through direct management agreements, where Bush Heritage assists in accessing funds, and then coordinates conservation work on private or crown land
- by covenanting land, where Bush Heritage negotiates and establishes conservation covenants on properties on behalf of their owners
- by assisting others to buy conservation land, where Bush Heritage undertakes initial conservation assessments, assists with the land purchase and then organises or undertakes the land management
- through conservation planning, where Bush Heritage facilitates conservation management planning on
private or crown land
- by providing management support, where, in return for getting covenants or management agreements on
significant sites, Bush Heritage provides planning expertise or resources to protect conservation values
on the land.
Beyond the Boundaries projects
The Beyond the Boundaries Unit is currently operating five key projects:
ANCHORS IN THE LANDSCAPE (National)
The Anchors in the Landscape program and associated fundraising campaign is fundamental to achieving the Beyond the Boundaries mission. Once an ‘anchor’ reserve is established within a region the Beyond the Boundaries Unit will work to build conservation initiatives that will benefit the region beyond the reserve boundary.
CONSERVATION ON COUNTRY (National)
Conservation on Country is a partnership between the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) and Bush Heritage. It works with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on Indigenous land purchased by the ILC, and on Bush Heritage properties. The program helps to build the capacity of Indigenous landholders to manage, protect and conserve their country. The program also assists Indigenous people to access funding from the ILC’s Environmental Acquisition Program so that they can increase the quantity and quality of conservation land they own.
‘Increment’, Investment in Conservation and Resource Management, will develop a way of measuring the return-on-investment, as measured in benefits to biodiversity, from funds committed to natural resource management through the private nature conservation sector. Providing organisations within this sector with a rigorous method for reporting biodiversity outcomes will increase confidence in the sector’s activities and achievements. This will, in turn, increase investment in the sector, building its capacity and resulting in better conservation outcomes.
GONDWANA LINK (South-west Western Australia)
The Beyond the Boundaries Unit has assumed management of the strategic planning of Bush Heritage's participation in Gondwana Link, a collaborative initiative between five organisations to reconnect and rebuild natural habitats from the Karri to Kalgoorlie. The Bush Heritage Conservation Programs Unit retains the day-to-day responsibility for reserves purchased as part of Gondwana Link. Bush Heritage will continue to build on these five programs, identifying more potential partners and opportunities in its ‘anchor’ regions.
Bush Heritage will continue buying and protecting critical habitats. It will also support regional conservation initiatives by creating and fostering links and partnerships with organisations and individuals on the land.